- The company announced that it has shared “protocols” with co-founder Peter Hargreaves
- The 77-year-old is still the largest shareholder with almost 20 percent
Hargreaves Lansdown has warned its billionaire co-founder to stop publicly criticizing the company.
In its latest annual report, released last week, the company said it had shared “protocols” with co-founder Peter Hargreaves to “ensure a shared understanding of how interactions will take place.”
The “joint minutes” reminded Hargreaves of a shareholders’ agreement that prohibits him from saying anything publicly about the company.
Co-founder Peter Hargreaves, 77, (pictured) is still the largest shareholder in Hargreaves Lansdown with just under 20 per cent
The warning comes after months of attacks from Hargreaves, including against chairwoman Deanna Oppenheimer, whom he accused of overseeing “diabolical” performance at the company.
Hargreaves also launched a sharp attack on the group’s high costs and strategy earlier this year under the leadership of outgoing boss Chris Hill.
In an interview with the Financial Times in early 2023, he said: “The board has indulged in completely unnecessary, irrelevant programs that have distracted the company from its main objective. “It’s hardly surprising that shares have collapsed.”
The 77-year-old is still the largest shareholder with almost 20 percent.
In the 1980s, Hargreaves founded one of Britain’s largest investment firms with his business partner Stephen Lansdown.
Last month the company reported a 50 percent rise in profits this year as rising interest rates pushed customers toward its savings offering.
The group said its profit before tax rose 50 per cent to £402.7 million in the 12 months to June 30, while sales rose 26 per cent to £735.1 million.
Hargreaves Lansdown said annual revenue growth reflected an improving net interest margin as interest rates rose and more customers held cash in both their investment and savings accounts.
Shares in Hargreaves Lansdown rose 0.11 per cent to 705.80p in midday trading on Monday.
Hargreaves Lansdown has failed to respond directly to its co-founder’s criticism.
It is now the UK’s largest self-managed investment platform, managing almost £135 billion in assets for more than 1.8 million customers. Hargreaves stepped down as chairman in 2010 and left the board entirely in 2015.
The relationship between the tycoon and the company is now governed by a shareholders’ agreement, which is not a public document and was drawn up in 2020. Pursuant to this Agreement
Hargreaves appointed 69-year-old Adrian Collins as his representative on the board. According to the annual report, in February the company “exchanged protocols for interactions with Peter Hargreaves and also with its shareholder representative to codify the relevant obligations of each party under the shareholders’ agreement, relevant legislation and regulations.” [UK Corporate Governance] Code to ensure a shared understanding of how interactions will take place.
A spokesman for the asset manager said it made the disclosure in its report in the interest of transparency and to show “that our relationship with Peter and his board representative is appropriately managed.”
Hargreaves did not comment. Chris Hill, the former CEO, began moving the company beyond its core DIY investing platform
Despite Olley’s takeover and criticism from its co-founder, the company has said it will continue with the strategy outlined by Hill.
Hargreaves rejected Oppenheimer’s re-election to the board at the asset manager’s annual general meeting last year, although she still secured the support of 66.5 percent of voting shareholders.
Still, the group is preparing for its departure and confirmed in July that it had “begun an exercise to identify the characteristics of any successor candidates for the presidency.”
Oppenheimer has led the board of Hargreaves Lansdown since 2018.
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